Monday, October 13, 2014

Back On The Horse - A Cuyamaca Loop

After weeks of being inside, broke and depressed it was time for us to get back on the proverbial horse. We opted to head out to Cuyamaca and do a little loop hike to try and blow out the cobwebs as it were. 

I pulled out the hiking gear bin and started to rummage thru it to prepare my pack for the day and I sat looking at the gear kind of puzzled. What the hell am I supposed to bring for a day hike again? 
I ended up bringing the weirdest stuff: knee braces, rain jacket, a black sharpie (why?), water purification tablets, a bandana, some snacks and water. No compass or first aid kit and we realized we forgotten the map while at the trailhead. Luckily, we had a spare in the truck. 

We arrived at the Sweetwater trailhead around 10am and headed out in the hot day. We started to climb right off the bat and we chugged our way up the Harvey Moore Trail into the sun.

 Josh stopped and asked me what my brain was saying. I thought about it and couldn't really pick any particular thought out of the jumble. He said his was saying "not this again" and his calves felt tight. We talked about the 'first mile fuck its' and how they have never left us, no matter how big or small the hike may be. 
I actually felt pretty good and didn't seem to have the fuck its, which is nice. My chest burned in a good way as we climbed and it felt good to be back in the dirt.

The trail leveled out and we met a junction with the Pine Trail. We consulted our map and saw that it would link us with the Juaquapin Trail which I don't think I had ever been on before. 

We descended into a brushy meadow and I scanned the area for resting wildlife, but there was none to be seen. We climbed out of the valley and came upon two equestrian volunteers and I spooked one of their horses as I approached. I quickly announced myself to ease the pony's nerves and we talked briefly with the volunteers before heading out toward the Dyar Spring trail junction.

We found a shady grotto and sat for a bit while Josh ate some trail mix. We've both changed our diets back to low carb and he was having a bit of a bonk. We talked about what to do with the rest of the day and decided to go to Anza Borrego and rock hop when we finished this loop.

We continued on the Juaquapin trial and looped around to junction with the East Side trail that would take us back to the truck. The rest of the hike was dusty and exposed in the afternoon sun. When all was said and done we had put in a short five miles on this loop and if felt good to be back in the saddle.

After the hike we headed out to Borrego Springs and had some lunch at Carlee's before driving up Rock House Canyon road to see what we could see. Just passed a large dry lake bed we found a spot that looked interesting and jumped out to explore. Josh went up one canyon and I another, scanning for things in the rocks. 
After a while I came down from the canyon I was exploring and went to the truck and yelled for answer. 
I yelled a couple more times...nothing.
I honked the horn...still no response. 
I started to freak out thinking maybe he fell and knocked himself out or something, so I got the binoculars out and couldn't see him anywhere. I layed on the horn and still got nothing. It was getting dark and I searched and searched but could not find any footprints in the sand. I couldn't believe this was happening and tried to think what to do next. 
I decided to leave him a note in the truck saying that I was going for help incase he came back. I searched for a pen to write the note...did I remember the random black sharpie in my backpack? Of course not, but maybe that's why I packed it. 
Eventually I found a pen, wrote the note and took off down the road. I was screaming his name as I walked and heard my voice echo strangely off the canyon walls followed by a quiet reply. I yelled again and followed his faint calls in the distance. 

Finally, I found him, in tact and safe two canyons over, and not very far away. I started crying out of relief and he said he didn't hear any of my calls. 

In that canyon you could hear nothing. He went and honked the horn to show me and yelled my name and I couldn't hear it even though it was right around the corner. I've never experienced that before in all my desert travels. 

The desert is weird.

Now reunited, we did a bit more rock the same canyon...before packing up and heading home.

It was a good feeling to have some sun on my cheeks and see dirty toes when I took off my shoes. I'm still working on getting out of this sadness I've been in. Getting out there as well as writing this post will hopefully help me get back on track.
On to the next.


  1. Hi Mandie, I'm trying to plan a hike in your part of the world, along a section of the PCT from Warner Springs south to Barrel Springs. From what I've read, there is a campground at Barrel Springs. Do you happen to know if there is actually a spring there, or at least piped in water? Or is it a dry campground, like Indian Flats? Thanks

    1. Hey Brewella, here is the link to our day on that section of trail on the PCT

      There is a picture of the water source at Barrell Springs which was a horse trough with a little trickle and the camp was primitive, so no bathrooms or anything. It is pretty much right on the Montezuma Valley Road and not that far of a drive from Warner Springs if you wanted to check out the flow or cache some water before you set out. If I get out there this weekend I'll let you know what the water situation is at the trough.

      The trail also goes by San Ysidro Creek which was flowing well when we were there. If you're going south that would be after Eagle Rock and before Barrell Springs, I think. That was one of my very favorite parts of the trail. My body was hurtin' then but damn it was pretty. The cows are funny too. You have several road crossings if I remember so it is possible to cache if you need to.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Hey Brewella, I went out there yesterday and Barrell Springs is flowing well. There were lots of animal tracks, and some bees in the horse trough. Shoot me an email and I'll send you some pictures. Mandiehikes@gmail.

  2. Thanks. Now, if my son can just get away from school for a day we'll head out.

  3. We hit the trail this last weekend and it couldn't have been more perfect. It was just after Saturday's rain, the weather was great and there was absolutely nobody else on the trail. The only downside? My husband will not stop talking about the Ranchita Yeti : ) I can't wait to explore further south of the springs. There's a little write up about our day and a few pics, just click on my blog name and you'll be able to follow it back to the post. Thanks for all your help.